The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission made the decision after hearing about 11 hours of opinions from industry officials, conservation groups, residents, and leaders from local governments and water utilities, all of whom overflowed the meeting room on Monday.
The parties generally supported the commission’s efforts, but disagreed on the details, including how to protect trade secrets and how quickly the information should be disclosed.
“We understand disclosures are important to the public,” said Tisha Conoly Schuller, president of the trade group Colorado Oil and Gas Association.
Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, involves blasting water, sand and chemicals into rock formations to free oil and natural gas. Companies have been fracking for decades, but as drilling expands to more populated areas, residents near wells have expressed concerns about potential effects on their health and drinking water.
Commission Director David Neslin said requiring companies to publicly disclose what chemicals they use is important for protecting public health and the environment, but more critical are the state’s rules for monitoring wells, ensuring proper casing and cementing around oil and gas wells, and sampling water to help detect contamination.
“It’s only one tool,” Neslin said of public disclosures. “We have other tools that provide more direct protection.”
In recent years, Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming have proposed or adopted rules requiring disclosure of fracking chemicals. Only Texas and Colorado have moved to require disclosure of all chemicals, and not just those considered hazardous by workplace regulators, industry representatives said.